English Linking Verbs

English Linking VerbsLink verbs as sentence elements. How not to confuse them with other verbs.

Link(ing) verbs are semi-notional verbs joining subjects and predicatives (as nouns/adjectives/pronouns). Rather than showing action, they help subject complements (predicative and modifiers) rename/describe subjects.

Linked nouns/adjectives/pronouns are sometimes called predicative nouns/adjectives/pronouns. Predicative nouns rename subjects. Predicative adjectives/pronouns describe subjects.

He is a good driver.

The subject-predicative linkage is like an equal sign.

She is very tall / She =  very tall

Basic linkers are be in all its forms (am/is/are/was/were/being/been), seem, look, feel, smell, sound, become, remain, turn.

Being Verbs


Let’s not act foolish.



The truth appeared so different.



To be honest, the car is his.



When will you become mature?



This injustice continues too long.



I’m sure, the tree will grow big.



She was proved innocent.



Nothing remains the same in this world.



Sit quiet, please!



The criminal stood still when he saw a policeman.



I won’t stay your coach any more.



He turned better than he seemed.

Sensation Verbs


It feels so good to be with you.


At first, the task looked difficult.


The job seems as easy as ABC.


The soup smells delicious.


It sounds him.


Your bread tastes stale.



The book says good about your guess.

Linker Confusion

Linkers except be, become, seem can also be used as notional verbs. Although modifiers after linkers may answer the question “what?” as direct objects do for transitive verbs, they receive no action.

The kids looked bored. (linker)

I looked for my wallet throughout the room. (notional)

The car horn sounds loud. (linker)

The horn is loud, a loud horn, horn = loud.

The car horn sounded loudly. (notional)

The horn can’t be loudly. Loudly describes verbs as an adverb by answering the question “how?”

To make out verb type, replace it with a be form. If it makes sense, the original verb is a linker. However, this replacement check doesn’t work for appear with which one has to analyze verb function.

Linkers may be confused with helping/auxiliary verbs serving in complex tenses.

Mike is looking.

Is functions here as a helping verb within the Present Continuous. Is looking tells what Mike is doing (action), not what he is being.

Linker Rhyme

Try rehearsing this rhyme to memorize basic linkers.

Am, are, is, was, were and be

Forms of be

Forms of be

Taste, smell, sound, seem, look, feel, say

Become, grow, appear, remain